Industry mourns ITV veteran Dunn

Tributes were pouring in this week for Richard Dunn, the former chief executive of Thames Television, who died suddenly at his home on Tuesday.

Tributes were pouring in this week for Richard Dunn, the former

chief executive of Thames Television, who died suddenly at his home on

Tuesday.



Dunn, who was 54, presided over the London weekday TV company during its

heyday in the 80s until the company lost its licence in the early 90s,

and earned a reputation as one of the gentlemen of the TV industry.



Dunn joined Thames in 1978 as a personal assistant to the programme

director, Jeremy Isaacs, rising to director of production by 1981. He

took over from Bryan Cowgill as chief executive of the company in

1985.



It was Dunn who took Thames public in 1988, masterminded the company’s

investment in the Astra satellite and had to face the disappointment of

losing the London weekday licence in the 1991 franchise round.



He established Thames as an independent production company, going on to

engineer a failed bid for the Channel 5 licence, launching UK Gold and

then steering the sell-out of Thames to Pearson Television. Dunn left

Thames in 1995 when Greg Dyke was brought in over his head as chief

executive of Pearson Television. Dunn went on to become executive

director of News International Television, a post he held until last

year.



Half-Icelandic and often described as urbane, charming and diplomatic,

Dunn earned himself incredible loyalty among his staff at Thames. Nick

Milligan, sales director of Channel 5 and a former head of sales at

Thames, recalls the support Dunn received when Thames lost its licence

in the early 90s.



’We decided to still go ahead with our sales conference,’ Milligan

remembers, ’and Richard came along as a guest of honour. As he walked

into dinner, the sales team stood on their chairs cheering and chanting

’there’s only one Dicky Dunn’.



’Richard started crying. Then he put on a T-shirt we’d bought him. It

said ’I bid pounds 22.6 million for our licence and all I got was this

lousy T-shirt’. He was an extraordinary man with immense stature and

presence. God knows we’ll all miss him so much. It really is a tragedy.’



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